Evernight Page 49

“I don’t know.” I hugged myself and looked down at the gargoyle on the windowsill, the twin of the one outside my bedroom window. “Are you still scared of me?”

“No. I’m not. Not at all.” Lucas shook his head slowly, his eyes disbelieving. “I ought to be—Hell, I don’t know how I ought to feel. I keep telling myself to stay away. To forget about you, because everything’s changed. But I can’t do it.”

“What?” I was too dumbfounded to hope.

Lucas’s voice was hoarse. “When I first saw what you were, up on the roof—Bianca, it was like nothing I’d ever believed was true.”

“I guess it’s not easy, accepting that vampires are real.”

“That wasn’t the part that got to me, actually.” I knew then that, no matter how freaked-out Lucas had been by the revelation about vampires, my lies had hurt him worse.

“Did you tell your mother? Did you tell anybody?”

Lucas laughed again. “Not hardly.” When I gave him a weird look, he said, “Can you think of a better way for me to end up in an adolescent psychiatric unit?”

“No,” I admitted. “It would probably get you a one-way ticket to the loony bin.”

Gruffly, he added, “Besides, you asked me not to.”

He had read that long letter full of revelations, learning that I had lied—that I was something he should consider a monster—but Lucas had still been able to hear my plea for secrecy and do what I asked. “Thank you.”

“I wasn’t going to come back here. I wasn’t ever going to see you again. It hurt so bad, and I thought the only way it would ever stop hurting was if I made myself forget you.” He dragged the back of his hand across his eyes, as if it tired him even to remember that struggle. “I tried hard to forget, Bianca. I couldn’t. Then I convinced myself that it was my duty to come back to Evernight.”

“Duty?” That confused me.

Lucas, apparently at a loss, shrugged. “To learn the truth? To see things through? I don’t know.” His expression changed as he looked up at me—and it was the same way he’d looked at me before, the way that made me weak in the knees. The way he looked when he said that the man in the Klimt painting had only one precious thing in the world. “But as soon as I saw you again, I knew that I still needed you. That I still trusted you. Even though you’re a vampire—or almost a vampire—whatever you are.” Lucas still said the word vampire like he couldn’t believe it. “It doesn’t matter to me. It should, but it doesn’t. I can’t help how I feel about you.”

I couldn’t hold back any longer. I went to Lucas and sank to the floor. He cradled my face in his hands, and his whole body shook. “You still want to be with me? Even though I lied to you?”

Lucas closed his eyes tightly. “I’d never hold that against you.”

“Then you understand why I had to keep it secret.” All the fear and dread I’d felt poured out of me in a great rush, and I wanted to put my arms around Lucas and melt against him. “You really understand. I never thought you would.”

“I can’t believe I want this,” he whispered. “I can’t believe how badly I want you.”

Lucas brushed his mouth against mine, just once. Maybe he meant for us to stop there, but I didn’t. I slipped my arms around his shoulders and kissed him again. I stopped worrying about everything else and just thought about Lucas and how close he was, the cedary scent of his skin, the way we breathed together when we kissed, like we were two parts of the same person. Little shivers of excitement made me tingle in my fingertips, my belly, everywhere.

“I ought to be running like hell.” His breath was hot against my ear. His fingers slipped into the waistband of my skirt, using it to pull me nearer to him. “What have you done to me?”

When he clutched me against his chest, I wanted to draw back. I was used to drawing back at this point because I was afraid of what my desire for Lucas could do. Now I would’ve expected Lucas to be the one who was afraid, but he wasn’t. He trusted me enough to kiss me, to sink down on the floor so that we were kneeling opposite each other, to close his eyes when I ran my hands through his hair.

“This is when it’s hard for me to stay in control,” I whispered, warning him.

“Let’s find out how much control we need.”

He tugged at the neck of his sweater, exposing his throat to me. Daring me, basically, to prove that I could hold back. I simply pressed one hand against his bare skin, and I opened my mouth wider beneath his. Lucas made a low sound that did something strange to my whole body, like I’d stood up too quickly and made myself dizzy. His hands slowly edged up the hem of my uniform sweater, testing my reaction. I kissed him harder. So Lucas pushed the sweater up my back, all the way, and I lifted my arms to help him shrug it off. Now I only wore a thin undershirt and my bra, midnight-blue, clearly visible beneath the white sleeveless T.

Lucas’s eyes were wide, and his breath was coming fast and shallow. Our kisses were more desperate now. He peeled off his own sweater and spread it out on the floor, like a blanket, then lowered me so that I lay on it, beneath him. He was still breathing fast but struggling for control. “Not here, not tonight—but maybe we could bring some stuff, find some other place to be alone one night—”

I silenced him with another kiss, deep and passionate enough to say yes. Lucas returned the kiss and held me tight—though not so tight that I couldn’t roll him over so that he was the one with his back against the floor. Now Lucas lay beneath me, and I was hyperaware of everything: his thighs around mine, the cool square of his belt buckle against my abdomen, his fingers playing with my bra strap, edging it aside.

For one second—just one second—I wondered what it would be like if Lucas and I had come up here prepared, with blankets and pillows and music and protection, and we had all night to be together. “I wish we could,” I gasped. “I wish we could be sure that I could stop.”

“Maybe—maybe it doesn’t matter.”

“What?”

Lucas’s eyes were bright, and his breath was fast and hot against my cheek. “You bit me once and you stopped in time. You didn’t need to kill or to change me. Just to bite. If that’s all it is—then maybe—Oh, God. Okay.”

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